ALAMEDA – It’s been more than a decade since the Raiders won a game coming off a bye week, yet players are encouraged by the approach used by coach Dennis Allen in getting that changed.
For evidence, players point to last season when the Raiders outplayed the 5-0 Atlanta Falcons, on the road, in a game they squandered at the very end.
“We came out, everybody took care of their body, we got refreshed, and it showed,” cornerback/punt returner Phillip Adams said of the Raiders first game after their bye week.
On Wednesday, the Raiders concluded their second practice of the week before they dashed for the parking lot and headed into a four-day break.
Allen imparted in them the importance of getting some down time, staying out of trouble and staying focused.
The coaches will spend some of the time while the players are away breaking down their tendencies, taking a look at what the most successful teams are doing and getting a jump on the next game, Oct. 27 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“Getting the rest, obviously, will be critical,” Allen said. “We’ve got to do a great job, as coaches, having a great plan for our players and put them in position to have success.”
As helpful as it is getting an extended break midseason, safety Charles Woodson said, it’s just as vital that the Raiders get some of their injured players back for the Steelers game.
Nowhere is that more glaring than with the offensive line, Woodson said. The Raiders lost two starters during their game against the Kansas City Chiefs last Sunday and began the game minus left offensive tackle Jared Veldheer and center Stefen Wisniewski.
Wisniewski (knee) should be back for the Steelers game. Same goes for right tackle Tony Pashos and backup lineman Andre Gurode.
The Raiders lost their past 10 games coming off a bye week. As they showed last season, there’s no reason why they can’t play their best game of the season after a week off.
Adams said Allen drilled home the point about what’s expected of the players between now and the Steelers game.
“Stay on top of what you need to stay on top of, just be prepared and don’t lose what you gained,” Adams said. “We feel like we’re moving in a good direction, regardless of what our record might say.”
– The past three games for D.J. Hayden encapsulated life as a rookie cornerback in the NFL, Raiders defensive coordinator Jason Tarver said.
In those games, Hayden got beaten for a key touchdown, made a game-clinching interception, committed a costly pass-interference penalty and forced a fumble.
“You don’t want the big swings,” Tarver said of the hit-and-miss nature of Hayden’s play.
In a perfect world, Hayden plays an entire game without his number being called or his image being displayed on the video board.
“A real good corner in the NFL is a guy that makes about four really good or critical plays for the game and then you don’t notice him for the rest of the game because all he’s doing is his job,” Tarver said.
That time is coming, Tarver said. He and everyone else in the organization are confident in Hayden’s ability to develop into a top-flight player before long.
Woodson understands the pressure on Hayden, given Woodson entered the league as a cornerback and the fourth pick of the 1998 NFL draft.
“When you’re (drafted) 12 overall, they expect you to make plays,” Woodson said of Hayden. “That’s the one area he has to get better at, making plays, because he’s going to have an opportunities week in and week out to do it.”
– Linebacker Miles Burris now is eligible to start practicing with his teammates after sitting out the six weeks required of players on the physically unable to perform list.
However, Allen said, Burris (knee) is like Veldheer (triceps) in that he is making progress but still has a ways to go before he’s cleared for practice. Veldheer is on the injured-reserve/designated to return list and can’t play in a game until Nov. 3, at the earliest.
“We’re getting closer with both those players,” Allen said. “I don’t think they’re there yet. We won’t do anything to activate those two guys until we feel they’re ready to go.”
Veldheer said he is eager to rejoin his teammates on the field and play in a game for the first time this season.
“It’s getting better every day,” Veldheer said of the injury he suffered during training camp. “I haven’t hit any obstacles or bumps in the road.”
– The Raiders waived running back George Winn from their practice squad and kicker Eddy Carmona from the injured-reserve list.